Meet the humble JMPD cop you don't want to be tjatjarag with

100% dedicated to preventing road accidents

15 February 2019 - 09:48 By Nonkululeko Njilo

When he’s not enforcing the law on the streets of Johannesburg, metro police officer George Wilhelm replaces his uniform with lycra and heads to the ring, where he is known as a two-time All African heavyweight wrestling champ.

While he enjoys the best of both, completely opposite, worlds, Wilhelm said if it came to choosing between these two passions, being a metro cop would win out. 

“I am really passionate about my job. I love interacting with people on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

Meeting at the JMPD headquarters, not a single person passed by without greeting him, or being greeted by him, with hugs and smiles for the muscled Wilhelm.   

Speaking about his upbringing in Sophiatown, Johannesburg, Wilhelm said he grew up in a poor family and had to work extra hard for everything he had achieved.

I had to work hard to escape my reality - After 22 years I am moving up now, not because I know someone, but on merit
Sergeant George Wilhelm

“I did not have it easy. I grew up in a very poor family. My mother has never been employed because she is blind and my father is illiterate and was a labourer.

“Some people assume that when a person is white, they have some privilege, but I did not have any. I had to work hard to escape my reality,” he said.    

Wilhelm was recently promoted to sergeant after serving in the sector for 22 years. He holds an advanced diploma in policing.    

“I have known him [George] for about eight years now. He is a very friendly person. He’s passionate not only about his work, but he studies and grows (his knowledge) in this profession,” said Nokuthula Buthelezi, from the office of JMPD chief David Tembe.

Despite being a long time coming, Wilhelm is grateful for the promotion, expressing his gratitude to Tembe.

“It was a relief to say, finally, someone is finally recognising me for what I have been doing for so many years.

“After 22 years I am moving up now, not because I know someone, but on merit, and that hard work is paying off…” 

Despite being a full-time law-enforcement officer, Wilhelm said he finds a way to juggle it with his passion for wrestling. 

“I always try finding balance. I hit the gym daily and wrestle twice a week, because that’s quite intense.” 

George Wilhelm in the wrestling ring
George Wilhelm in the wrestling ring
Image: via JMPD

He said playing professional sports did not only benefit him physically, but gave him balance in life. 

“Playing professional sports, like me wrestling, it gives you discipline, routine, consistently, to do what you are supposed to do in a working environment. It also gives me the skills to handle situations, especially physical situations, better.”  

Through wrestling, Wilhelm has travelled to countries like Nigeria, India and the United States. 

HHH, The Rock and Bobby Lashley are some of the well-known wrestlers he looks up to.  

His career highlights include fighting against former WWE wrestling champion Jack Swagger at an Arnorld Classic Sports event and against current WWE Universal Heavyweight Champion Lashley.

The assumption that all metro cops are corrupt and take bribes is a challenge  Wilhelm said he faced on a daily basis, adding that racism and corruption are the two things he cannot tolerate. 

“I know there are some rotten potatoes among us, but I also know that there are a lot of good officers who love their jobs and are 100% anti corruption.”

Wrestler and friend of 16 years Steve Eden described Wilhelm as a passionate person. 

“He loves his job, he has a good heart, but is very tough when he wrestles. He uses his strength and it’s hard to contend with him in the ring,” said Eden. 

“He has a thing with people who break the law and speed on the road. He always talks about accidents that could have been avoided... that put others at risk,” said Eden. 

Wilhelm said he believed his two passions combined well.  

He said some saw the JMPD in a negative light, but “looking physically fit and having a positive influence in the community, they respect you better, which improves the image of the department.”

Asked if he ever used his wrestling skills when dealing with unruly motorists, he laughed. 

“Well, sometimes. Once in a while you find people who resist arrest and, yeah, the wrestling skill comes in and I would choke-hold them, but we use very minimal force…” 

All going well, Wilhelm hopes to rise two or three ranks in the next six years.

“Surround yourself with positive people and you will get positive results,” is his daily mantra.